Does it ever seem to you that Jesus can be a little unrealistic? Today Jesus tells us “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” But how can we go round loving everyone we meet? Isn’t love reserved to those closest to us … our parents, children, and partners? Harder still, how can we love as Jesus loved? Jesus loved us to the point of death. Surely following this kind of example is a very tall order!
The main thing to remember in following Jesus’ teaching is that he wouldn’t ask anything of us that we couldn’t do. Secondly, we might not be ready to love each other to the point of death, but Jesus gives us plenty of other lessons in how to love. We’re not talking some impossible ideal or some form of idealistic behaviour. We simply need to recognise, as Jesus recognised that love is a basic human need. Jesus had a talent for seeing everyone as an individual. We too need to see people as individuals rather than lump them together into categories. We too need to recognise need and respond accordingly. Loving someone is a decision we make rather than the harbouring of fluffy romantic sentiments found in greeting cards. Loving someone is about serving the need to be liked, appreciated, forgiven or helped. We follow Jesus’ lessons in love every time we seek to alleviate someone else’s suffering … every time we reject violence and retaliation ….. every time we make a stand against neglect or greed or apathy.
There are plenty of people who are already living their lives by Jesus’ example. These people are shining examples of discipleship, not be what they say but by how they behave. Have you ever been filled with so much respect for someone that you wanted to imitate them? If you start to behave in the same way it won’t be long before others are looking up to you as a role model. Watch out …. love is catching.